Monday, February 7, 2011

A Lifetime in Tunisia

When I was growing up, I heard a lot of people say they didn't like Jazz. They didn't like it's improvisation. They didn't like that it sounded like it was "all over the place." In turn, even before I'd even heard it, I was positive that I didn't like Jazz.

Obviously, the rest of the world didn't agree with the opinions of my young microcosm, and thank goodness for that.

Over twenty years later, I'm reminded of what a small world we live in when we're young and how it is our responsibility as growing and changing adults to see the world outside our own upbringing and see ourselves growing within it.

Today, NPR has provided...

Which houses The 100 Quintessential Jazz Songs,

1.Take FiveDave Brubeck
2.So WhatMiles Davis
3.Take The A TrainDuke Ellington
4.Round MidnightThelonious Monk
5.My Favorite ThingsJohn Coltrane
6.A Love Supreme (Acknowledgment)John Coltrane
7.All BluesMiles Davis
8.BirdlandWeather Report
9.The Girl From IpanemaStan Getz & Astrud Gilberto
10.Sing, Sing, SingBenny Goodman
11.Strange FruitBillie Holiday
12.A Night in TunisiaDizzy Gillespie
13.Giant StepsJohn Coltrane
14.Blue Rondo a la TurkDave Brubeck
15.Goodbye Pork Pie HatCharles Mingus
16.Stolen MomentsOliver Nelson
17.West End BluesLouis Armstrong
18.God Bless The ChildBillie Holiday
19.Cantaloupe IslandHerbie Hancock
20.My Funny ValentineChet Baker
21.Body And SoulColeman Hawkins
22.Song For My FatherHorace Silver
23.SpainChick Corea
24.Blue In GreenMiles Davis
25.NaimaJohn Coltrane
26.Flamenco SketchesMiles Davis
27.Waltz For DebbyBill Evans
28.Autumn LeavesCannonball Adderley
29.St. ThomasSonny Rollins
30.Mercy, Mercy, MercyCannonball Adderley
31.What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
32.Lush LifeJohn Coltrane/Johnny Hartman
33.Blue TrainJohn Coltrane
34.PoincianaAhmad Jamal
35.In a Sentimental MoodDuke Ellington & John Coltrane
36.Freddie FreeloaderMiles Davis
37.SummertimeElla Fitzgerald
38.Watermelon ManHerbie Hancock
39.Salt PeanutsDizzy Gillespie
40.Moanin'Art Blakey
41.Straight, No ChaserThelonious Monk
42.Good Morning HeartacheBillie Holiday
43.Mack the KnifeElla Fitzgerald
44.In the MoodGlenn Miller
45.DesafinadoStan Getz
46.Cast Your Fate To The WindVince Guaraldi
47.Rhapsody in BlueGeorge Gershwin
48.Blue MonkThelonious Monk
49.CaravanDuke Ellington
50.SidewinderLee Morgan
51.DjangoModern Jazz Quartet
52.Compared To WhatLes McCann
53.Red ClayFreddie Hubbard
54.Ruby, My DearThelonious Monk
55.April in ParisCount Basie
56.Bitches BrewMiles Davis
57.TwistedLambert, Hendricks & Ross
58.Maiden VoyageHerbie Hancock
59.Mood IndigoDuke Ellington
60.St. Louis BluesLouis Armstrong
61.MantecaDizzy Gillespie
62.How High The MoonElla Fitzgerald
63.At LastEtta James
64.FeverPeggy Lee
65.Satin DollDuke Ellington
66.Someday My Prince Will ComeMiles Davis
67.Autumn in New YorkBillie Holiday
68.EpistrophyThelonious Monk
69.I Loves You PorgyNina Simone
70.It Don't Mean A ThingDuke Ellington
71.KokoCharlie Parker
72.MilestonesMiles Davis
73.MisteriosoThelonious Monk
74.NuagesDjango Reinhardt
75.Struttin' with Some BBQLouis Armstrong
76.The In CrowdRamsey Lewis
77.Ain't MisbehavinFats Waller
78.Bye Bye BlackbirdJohn Coltrane
79.On Green Dolphin StreetMiles Davis
80.Linus and LucyVince Guaraldi
81.Georgia on My MindRay Charles
82.Joy SpringClifford Brown & Max Roach
83.One O'Clock Jump Count Basie
84.Potato Head BluesLouis Armstrong
85.Bumpin’ (On Sunset)Wes Montgomery
86.Feeling GoodNina Simone
87.MistyErrol Garner
88.Moody's Mood For LoveJames Moody
89.StardustLouis Armstrong
90.Yardbird SuiteCharlie Parker
91.Diminuendo & Crescendo in BlueDuke Ellington
92.Donna LeeCharlie Parker
93.Water BoyDon Shirley
94.OrnithologyCharlie Parker
95.Begin the BeguineArtie Shaw
96.CeoraLee Morgan
97.Sophisticated LadyDuke Ellington
98.SugarStanley Turrentine
99.FootprintsWayne Shorter
100.Four on SixWes Montgomery

Yeah yeah yeah, I get it. "Take Five" was the first jazz song to sell a million copies. I'm not a Jazz expert, but I knew that the real gems of the list were well beyond this mainstream classic.

#12..."A Night in Tunisia," the very first jazz song I can remember hearing and knowing the title. This song changed my attitude about not only jazz, but also about American music in general. It's all thanks to Cliff Huxtable and "The Cosby Show."

My Very First Version of "A Night in Tunisia." Miles Davis
A Night in Tunisia  (A wonderful rendition by Dizzy Gillespie)

Cliff Huxtable and his COOGI sweaters, his pudding pops, his Rudy and Theo and Lisa Bonet...he made me realize that jazz was something worth sticking up for in my world of haters. Not only did the Huxtables seem to have seventy-five grandfathers that were all incredibly accomplished and slightly famous jazz musicians (did anyone else notice this?), but they had an entire episode dedicated to "A Night in Tunisia."

From what I can remember, Cliff wanted this rare recording of this song and was putting in telephone bids for the album, when...unbeknownst to him, Claire was bidding on the very same album from across town. They spent an incredible amount of money and energy for this recording, and for an impressionable tot in the 80's, it was kind of a big deal that they held this song, or any song, in such a high regard. 

At that time, the opportunity to just pop on and off the internets was not available (oh the humanity!), but several years later, that song title had not left my mind, and I was finally able to download it using a "totally legal" file-sharing program. When I heard "A Night in Tunisia" for the first time, I was sure that I was listening to the only piece of American music that could ever move me.

It just seems like #12 is way too low on this list. Best Blogger Tips

1 comment:

  1. One of the guys at work played a Miles Davis' cover of Cindi Lauper's "True Colors" the other day. It was pretty smoooooth.